The Miami Dolphins are in the NFL Playoffs for the first time since 2008, and, if things continue to progress, they could see their starting quarterback get his first ever postseason start. Ryan Tannehill, who has missed the last three games due to sprained ligaments in his left knee, is, according to a report from the Miami Herald’s Armando Salguero, expected to return to practice this week.
To be fair, those practices could all be limited workouts that do not lead to Miami feeling their franchise quarterback is ready to be on the field in a game situation. If that is the case, Matt Moore, who finished the season 2-1 as a starter in Tannehill’s place, would again be called upon to start. The good news is simply that Tannehill, who could have easily had a season-ending injury to the knee, one that would have required surgery and could have put the start of his 2017 season in jeopardy, has continued to progress each week since the injury occurred.
Tannehill was injured against the Arizona Cardinals in Week 14 when a low hit bent his left knee backward just after he planted it and threw a pass. In Week 15, he was on the sidelines wearing a full-leg cast and using crutches as the Dolphins beat the New York Jets. The next week, against the Buffalo Bills, Tannehill was again on the sideline, but was walking without the crutches and the cast had been removed, though there was a noticeable limp. During last week’s practices, Tannehill showed up on Wednesday but did not participate in any workouts but he was throwing passes on the sideline; Thursday saw him starting to work on drop backs with a resistance band as part of his rehabilitation work.
Tannehill will have to convince head coach Adam Gase that the knee is ready, and that Tannehill is ready to trust his knee. After saying last week that the team will be “very, very smart” about bringing back the quarterback, Gase added on Sunday, “I’m going to make the call on it. If I don’t feel comfortable with it, then Matt [Moore] will stay the starting quarterback. I need to get a lot of information: I have to see him practice and I have to see him move around and I have to feel really good about it. I’m not going to jeopardize his career by throwing him out there and then extending this thing longer than what it already is. I’m going to make sure that the right decision is made.”
Tannehill finished the season with career highs in completion percentage (67.1), yards per attempt (7.7), and passer rating (93.5). He had 2,995 yards with 19 touchdowns and 12 interceptions on the year.
The Dolphins face the Pittsburgh Steelers as part of the NFL’s Wildcard Weekend. Kickoff is set for 1pm ET on Sunday.